Think-aloud (or thinking aloud) protocol (also talk-aloud protocol) is a protocol used to gather data in usability testing in product design and development, in psychology and a range of social sciences (e.g., reading, writing, translation research, decision making, and process tracing).
- Participants verbalize what they are doing and thinking as they complete a task
- This is among the most common evaluative methods in the usability community, revealing aspects of an interface that delight, confuse, or frustrate.
- It asks people to articulate what they are doing, thinking, or feeling as they complete a set of tasks that align with their realistic day-to-day goals.
- Concurrent think-aloud is most common, asking the participant to work through tasks while articulating what he or she is doing, thinking, and feeling.
- Retrospective think-aloud asks participants to complete a task in silence and then comment on their processes as they watch a recorded replay of their experience. This can provide additional insight into participant reasoning, intentions, and strategy.
- The method can be used on low- or high-fidelity prototypes, physical artifacts that require assembly, devices to be synchronized, or customized products.